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Industrial, tech shares drive gains on Wall Street

(Reuters) – Gains in industrial and technology shares helped U.S. stocks rebound from a two-day fall on Thursday as investors shrugged off the prospects of more interest rate hikes this year.

Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting showed on Wednesday that the policymakers were more confident in the need to keep raising rates, with most believing inflation would perk up.

However, comments from St Louis Fed President James Bullard earlier in the day appeared to have eased some of those concerns and the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields US10YT=RR retreated from the more than four-year highs they hit on Wednesday.

Bullard told CNBC on Thursday that central bankers need to be careful not to increase interest rates too quickly this year because that could slow the economy too much.

Wall Street’s fear gauge, the CBOE Volatility index .VIX, was at 18.56. The index had jumped above 21 points after the release of minutes.

“Yesterday was overdone. Clearly we have a major market reversal and today investors are more comfortable with the likelihood of three rate hikes and not four,” said John Lynch, chief investment strategist at LPL Financial in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Despite Fed’s hawkish views, bets on the U.S. short-term interest rate futures continued to reflect expectations of three rate hikes this year, based on a Reuters analysis.

Although analysts expect tightening of monetary policy to unsettle markets in the short term, they remain confident about the health of the U.S. economy and corporate earnings, especially after the new tax law.

“In spite of what we experienced with a return to volatility a couple of weeks ago, we can still see firming economic and profit growth and that is something investors will need to maintain their focus on,” Lynch said.

By 12:33 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 1.12 percent at 25,076.04, powered by gains in United Technologies (UTX.N).

Shares of the industrial conglomerate jumped 3.7 percent after its chief executive said the company was exploring a breakup of its business.

The S&P 500 .SPX was up 0.85 percent at 2,724.32 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC gained 0.57 percent to 7,259.08. Gains in these indexes were driven by Apple (AAPL.O), Microsoft (MSFT.O) and Amazon.

U.S. crude CLc1 rose to a two-week high of $63.03 per barrel, boosted by data showing a surprise draw in U.S. crude inventories and also due to a drop in the dollar. [O/R]

That lifted the S&P energy index .SPNY by more than 2 percent.

Chesapeake Energy’s (CHK.N) shares jumped 23 percent and were on track to post their biggest percentage gain since April 2016 after the company reported upbeat quarterly profit.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,167 to 667. On the Nasdaq, 1,782 issues rose and 1,045 fell.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva

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